There are several types of insurance which provide you cover for specific instances and situations. A mental health condition can make it more difficult to get insurance cover, and it might be that you have to pay more because of a pre-existing medical condition.
You might also have to pay a higher premium for insurance even if you haven’t had a diagnosis but have seen a doctor, because you had symptom(s) of a mental health condition previously. Read more to find out whether you can get mental health cover as part of private healthcare insurance.
What Is a Mental Health Condition?
Mental health conditions, often referred to as mental illnesses or mental health disorders, are disorders which affect an individual's thinking, mood and behaviour. There are a variety of mental health conditions, and there are approximately 1 in 4 people in the UK who have or experience a mental illness.
Types of mental health conditions include, but not exclusive to:
- Anxiety disorders
- Eating disorders
- Addictive behaviours
There are various types of mental illnesses, and symptoms vary by illness and some even overlap.
Can I Get Health Insurance If I Have a Mental Health Condition?
Firstly, it is important to understand what a pre-existing medical condition is - as having one generally affects where you can get private healthcare insurance and what type.
A pre-existing medical condition is any condition you suffer from at the time you apply for insurance. As you may already know, most insurance policies don’t cover pre-existing conditions – this usually means they won’t pay out on a claim related to any pre-existing conditions, and this includes mental health problems.
For example, if you’ve been diagnosed with depression at the time you apply for medical insurance, this would be considered a pre-existing condition. Many policies don’t cover pre-existing conditions, and if you try to make a claim relating to depression then your provider will likely dismiss your claim and refuse to pay out any money.
Why Is It More Difficult to Get Private Healthcare with Mental Health Issues?
If you have a mental health condition, you might find it hard getting a cover that suits your needs. When applying for private healthcare insurance, you may face certain challenges as listed below.
‘High risk’ Customer:
Some providers will likely assess customers with pre-existing health conditions as ‘high risk’. This is when your provider believes they are more likely to have to pay out on a claim, and you could be refused cover or charged for a higher premium – even if you had mental health problems in the past and are now recovered.
You may be charged more if you’re unable to work due to mental health:
Insurance providers may only give the option of selecting ‘in work’ or ‘unemployed’ in your application, and you might find your premium higher if you answer with this.
It might be difficult for you to get the exact cover you want:
As previously mentioned, many health insurance providers don’t accept chronic or pre-existing conditions including mental health conditions, meaning you might not find a cover that accurately suits you.
What Is Mental Health Cover?
Waiting lists for psychiatric care (among many others) are some of the longest on the NHS. Many different patients are having to wait up to years for counselling or an appointment with a consultant physiatrist.
Therefore, many insurance providers also offer a separate mental health insurance cover. This is like a private health insurance add-on which offers either full or partial cover for private mental health treatment – if you need cover for your mental health, you will need to pay for this health insurance add-on, meaning you will pay for a private health insurance AND a mental health insurance cover.
Should I Get Mental Health Cover?
Like any type of private healthcare insurance, taking out mental health care cover may be expensive or time-consuming due to many providers not taking on people with pre-existing conditions. Luckily, there are policies available which can help cover your mental health.
Mental health care cover, thus, may be useful if you are struggling to receive a diagnosis or the right treatment and care through the NHS due to the lack of funding and long queues. It is, overall, important to take care of your mental health so private healthcare insurance might be right for you.